Don’t suffer the ugly anymore. Here’s how to give your garden a fall makeover.
Your poor, sad garden. The spent vines, stubborn weeds, and greens gone to seed are putting a pitiful spin on your backyard retreat.
But it doesn’t have to be that way. Here are some simple tips to tidy up your garden and yard, which will also help prep them for next year.
Bury the Dead
Nothing looks sadder than leggy tomato vines, yellow zucchini leaves, and dried-up perennials that long ago displayed their last bloom. So pull and prune the dead or dying plants in your garden.
Bury spent plants in your compost pile; double-bag diseased and infested plants and place in the trash. (Empty mulch bags are great final resting places for these plants, so be sure to stockpile them in spring.)
If your tomato vines are still bearing fruit, keep staking and pruning them until the first hard frost, when they’ll likely die. And give the birds a break and leave some seed-bearing but spent blooms for them. They love sunflowers, cone flowers, berries, and black-eyed Susans.
This is the last time this season to pull weeds. Pluck them before they flower and send seeds throughout your garden that will rest in winter and sprout in spring.
If you have a mulcher, chop the weeds and throw them on your compost pile. If you want to be extra sure that weed seeds are dead, bag weeds in black plastic and place in a sunny place for a couple of months. The heat will kill the seeds. Then throw the cooked weeds on your compost pile.
One way to cut garden expenses is to harvest and store seeds. One large sunflower, for instance, can provide seeds for hundreds of plants next spring. Here are some seed guidelines.
- Harvest seeds from heirloom vegetables and standard plants.
- Disease can spread through seeds, so only harvest seeds from your healthiest plants.
- Don’t harvest seeds from hybrid plants, which often are sterile or will look nothing like the parent plant.
- Only harvest mature seeds from dry and faded blooms and pods. Mature seeds are often cream colored or brown.
- After seeds are dry, store them in envelopes or glass jars in a cool, dry place.
Stack and cover metal tomato cages. Bundle wooden or bamboo stakes, and store in a dry place so they don’t rot over winter. And retrieve panty-hose vine ties that you can re-use next spring.
Instead of throwing out broken cages and stakes, repurpose them. Snip off remaining cage legs to use for pepper supports. Broken tomato steaks will support smaller plants if you whittle one end into a point, so it easily slips into the ground.
Autumn is the time to visualize your spring garden and plant accordingly. Here are our outdoor “to-dos” that reap the fruits of fall, plan for spring and keep your autumn garden aglow.
Flash some color.
Replace spent annuals with fall-blooming hardy mums; these showy perennials will provide color for many weeks. Properly planted, maintained and winterized, mums will colorfully enhance your landscape for years to come.
Check out Dutch treats.
Fall is “now or never” time to plant spring bulbs. Daffodils, tulips, hyacinths, crocus and other fall bulbs will arrive soon from Holland. Shop early for the best selection. Then dream up a new color scheme or enhance the old.
Give a tree a chance.
Fall is the best season to plant fruit trees such as apples, pears, plums, cherries, peaches, apricots and figs. Young trees should be staked to prevent roots from being pulled by fall and winter winds.
Protect the weak.
As perennials fade away, mark their locations with small sticks. Some might not be apparent after the winter and could be disturbed by spring cultivating. If you haven’t brought in your house plants yet, do so before you heat your home to give them time to adjust. A thorough washing first helps get rid of pests.
Cook up a garden.
Some veggies can be sown in fall to overwinter, resulting in earlier crops the following year: peas, fava beans, hardy spinach, spring cabbage, Calabrese, leaf beets, or Swiss chard. Spring onions can be sown in late summer and early fall for overwintering. Sow hardy lettuce in a cold greenhouse.
Herbs on the go.
Dig up your rosemary, basil, tarragon, oregano, marjoram, thyme, parsley and chives to grow them inside as house plants. Keep them in a cool, sunny spot, and allow the soil to dry out before watering. Snip off the leaves as needed in the kitchen, but do not strip them completely. For herbs that have grown vigorously through the summer, cut them back about halfway and then dry or freeze the extra harvest or share it with friends. Herb crafts such as lavender soap and sachets are great as gifts.
Tomatoes in reverse.
If unripe tomatoes are still hanging on the vine and frost is fast approaching, pull the vines out by the roots and hang them upside down in a cool, dark place to finish ripening.
Transplant rhubarb, strawberries and raspberries well before the first light frosts so they can develop roots. Rhubarb and strawberries can quickly deplete the soil of nutrients, so find new locations for them every three or four years.
Harvest those apples now for a delicious cider brew. You can use blemished apples, but avoid adding too many with open wounds or bruises. If rot has already set in, it could affect the taste and longevity of the cider.
Sunflower seeds are best dried on the plants. The seeds will be difficult to remove if you harvest the plants before they die naturally. If birds are a problem, cover the heads with cheesecloth for protection.
Seed grass now.
Fall is the best time to seed new grass. Warm days and cool nights supported by regular rainfall or irrigation make for ideal growing conditions. Spruce up spotty patches or plant a full lawn.
Raking it over.
Know which leaves to rake and which to “leave” behind. Must-rake: leaves on sidewalks (too slippery); perennial beds (cause crown rot); and lawns (attract fungi insects). Leave-behind: leaves under trees and shrubs, and on sturdy ground covers (over time they self-destruct into needed compost). Invest in a clog-free rake with a wave-shaped tooth design to keep leaves from sticking. Use an electric blower only when it is absolutely necessary, such as on the roof. And protect your back from strain while raking by moving your feet rather than bending over continuously from one spot.
Hire a landscape designer this fall! Scheduling is less chaotic than in spring, and designers have more time to answer questions and develop smaller projects. Start early to avoid missing the planting season, because considerable lead time is necessary (visiting the site, drawing up plans, making estimates, etc.).
(From the National Association of Realtors Weekly Report)
Excited about designing your first flower garden? Calm down before you make these 5 rookie mistakes:
Mistake 1: Disregarding the sun
Do you know how many hours of full sun your garden gets each day in each season?
If you can delay gratification, study your yard over a year before designing a garden. See how long the sun shines in the fall, spring, and summer. Read planting labels to determine how much sun a particular plant needs.
Sun-loving plants, such as roses, need at least 6 hours of sun a day; partial sun/shade plants need 4 to 6 hours; and shade plants need little or dappled sunlight: more sun can burn their leaves.
Mistake 2: Failing to consider color
It doesn’t matter what color story you tell, just make sure you know the story before you plant. Here are some ideas:
Pull out your color wheel and find plants with complementary colors, such as yellow coreopsis with violet salvia.
Monochromatic gardens are stunners. Dot your one-color story with whites (daisies) and greens (hostas), considered neutrals in the garden world.
If you want to attract birds, add plants with vivid colors. Hummingbirds like reds, and goldfinches fly to yellows.
Pick blooms that contrast with the exterior paint color of your house, so plants will stand out and add to your curb appeal.
Mistake 3: Over-planting
When it comes to perennials, remember this rule: First year they sleep; second year they creep; third year they leap. Be sure to leave 2-3 feet between plants, giving them room to breathe and space to grow.
Mistake 4: Favoring lines over bunches
Tulips look like lonely soldiers when planted in lines. Instead, arrange bulbs and plants in more natural-looking, odd-numbered clusters of 3, 5, 7, and so on.
Mistake 5: Forgetting that size matters
Check labels for mature plant heights. Tallest go in back; medium in the middle; shortest in front. And don’t forget to install a focal point, like an ornamental tree or fountain.
Elfant Wissahickon REALTORS extends an invitation to all to join us at this weekend festivities. On Saturday, May 2nd, we’ll be hosting a booth at this year’s Mount Airy Day located on the historic grounds of the Cliveden House at Germantown Avenue and Johnson Street. On Sunday we’re hosting a booth at Chestnut Hill’s Garden Festival at Germantown Avenue and Hartwell Lane. We will have giveaways and free raffles to be drawn for fantastic prizes. Our agents will be on hand to talk about the current real estate market and answer any questions you may have regarding buying or selling a home. We will also have available information on the first time homebuyer tax credit, a menu of this week’s featured open houses along with information on our current homes for sale. Look forward to seeing you all there!
Posted by Paul Walsh
What are your current Plans for 2021?
Build the CSJ Team and hopefully take one vacation abroad.
If you weren’t a realtor, what would you be up to right now?
I would work for the tourism bureau of Philadelphia as I love my city, or travelling around the world!
What do you like doing in your spare time?
I like to build furniture, do house projects, garden, and sail.
What is your creative process like?
Gather as much information from trained sources, use the internet before jumping into any new venture.
Where did you grow up?
In Aix-en-Provence in Southern France.
What is the most interesting thing you’ve read or seen this week?
Becoming, Michelle Obama’s Autobiography.
To contact Cecile, call 215-880-2726 or email firstname.lastname@example.org
Visit Cecile on Facebook. Follow the CSJ Team on Instagram.
Growing up, my dad worked in construction on the Gulf Coast. This is what first sparked my interest in real estate and home remodels. Before realizing my dreams as a Realtor, I took a well-loved detour in the corporate bartending field. Leaning on the relationship-building skills of my past, I love matching my clients with their perfect neighborhood, finding what sort of charm/character motivates them, and getting them into their dream home.
Originally from Tallahassee, FL, I moved to Philly in 2017. I was captivated by all the neighborhoods in Philly, each with their own vibe, and had to make it my home. Currently living in Newbold, you may find me tending to my indoor jungle and gardening on my patio when the weather permits. I never tire of exploring the entire city, whether it’s heading to Fishtown to grab take out at NUNU, popping over to Reading Terminal to stock my kitchen, getting my weekly fix at Pho 75, or staying local at South Philly Tap Room. When I need to get away and nurture my nature side, my pup Ellen and I love to hike and discover nearby waterfalls. My senior Shih Poo, Itty Bitty, stays comfy at home on the couch with her feet up.
With years of hospitality experience, I have a knack for details and client service. While I have a calm demeanor, I’m taking care of each step of your transaction, buttoning up all the loose threads so everything runs smoothly. I’m here to answer any and all questions you may have about buying a home; be it the first time, an investment property, or moving up. After all, this experience should be one that you remember fondly and say “that was so much easier than I thought!”.
Growing up, I used to love looking at houses with my Mom – we lived in the same house my entire childhood, but never tired of poking around the brick Colonials in Erdenheim, the Wissahickon schist homes in Mt. Airy and Chestnut Hill, and the stately shaded classics in Wyndmoor. We’d admire wide plank floors and whisper about peeling paint and loose shingles. Coming home, heads full of ideas, we’d translate the best of what we’d seen into our own home. In the years that followed, I never lost my interest – keeping on top of home design trends, the market, and local neighborhoods. After marrying my wonderful husband in 2016, and experiencing the home selling and buying process for myself, (4 times! What were we thinking!?), I realized that I could turn my passion into a career.
At the end of the day I love to unwind by playing fetch with my puppy, tending my garden, or enjoying a glass of wine with my husband on our patio. We spend most of our time at home these days and are so thankful to be in a house and neighborhood we love. Without an experienced agent by our side through selling, building, selling again, and buying our current home, we would have felt lost. With my background of over ten years in HR, I love to get to know my clients to better understand what motivates them. From there, I work tirelessly to meet and exceed my clients’ expectations and usher them through the sometimes confusing and stressful home buying and selling process.
A native to Chestnut Hill, I am an expert in the Northwestern neighborhoods of Philadelphia and the surrounding suburbs of Montgomery County and the Main Line. In my free time, I love to sing, stage manage, and party-plan with the Savoy Company of Philadelphia. I am passionate about home design and gardening, and have loved updating our brick Colonial in Flourtown. Follow along on my adventures @whitneygelrodhomes.
What are new habits/hobbies during quarantine?
I bought a Stryde bike about 6 weeks into Stay At Home orders. I ride it every other day or so. (If you like cycling this bike is AWESOME. Hit me up if you want to hear me shamelessly sing its praises and convince you to buy one.) I also started gardening. I have a vertical veggie garden out front and it has been very satisfying to see a small plot of land produce so much food.
What moved you to become a realtor?
I come from a family of builders. When I found success in various sales positions I realized selling real estate would be a great way to wed family history with my inclination to work with people.
What are you most excited about being a realtor?
The people! I have the BEST clients and colleagues. I am so grateful I can still perform my job successfully right now, but I truly miss face to face time with my clients and celebrating settlements with them.
Hardcovers or audiobooks?
What’s the most recent book you read?
Kindred by Octavia Butler
To contact Chrissy, call (267) 736-1982 or email email@example.com
Visit Chrissy on the Neil Kugelman Team website here!
Iced coffee or iced tea?
What’s your favorite spot/neighborhood in the city?
This is so tough having lived here for 10 years! I feel like it changes every few years depending on where I’m living. Now that I’m in Pennsport, being near Dickinson Square is so special. Huge trees, plenty of benches, a playground, and a few good coffee shops nearby to have a socially-distanced hang in the park!
Beach vacation, mountain, or city trip?
Mountain! I own a cabin in the Catskills, so definitely love being secluded and in nature when I’m looking to escape the city.
What do you grill for your perfect BBQ?
The perfect BBQ includes local sausages and meats (from Primal Supply Meats!), a fresh salad (roasted corn & tomatoes…) with a lot of herbs, and cold potato salad!
What moved you to become a realtor?
I’m super passionate about houses, design, and hospitality. So taking care of clients, while helping them find amazing spaces is not only engaging for me, but comes naturally! I also was tired of sitting at a desk all day… which I think is why most people become realtors!
To contact Kate, call 908.451.0235 or email firstname.lastname@example.org
Visit Kate’s website page here! Check out Kate’s Instagram account here!
Originally from Nesquehoning, PA, Ann Marie fell in love with Philadelphia as a Penn student and has lived here ever since. Currently a Bella Vista resident, she has lived all over the city – finding a special magic in each neighborhood that has fueled her 25+ years of real estate experience. Much of Ann Marie’s success as a realtor stems from her dedication, attention to detail, and hands-on approach. She strives to make every transaction as smooth and seamless as possible for her clients, many of whom have been referred from other long-standing clients, both investors and homeowners.
Ann Marie likes to start every morning with Tai Chi and a Wawa coffee – preferably in one of Philly’s beautiful parks. Her favorite pastimes include spending time with her family, discovering new restaurants, gardening, and traveling. She is also an avid supporter of the arts, public education, and animal rescue in Philadelphia.